Alan Watts: Spiritual Entertainer

Alan Watts was not confined to a single label and wasn’t even an expert in what he philosophized. His various recordings and books related to Buddhism, Hinduism, Zen and Taoism, however, he wasn’t an academic or a monk, not following any system rigidly.

He called himself a spiritual entertainer, though his unorthodox style, a flamboyant life and other unique traits made him one of the leading philosophers of the 21st century.

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Alan Watts on The 5 Most Important Lessons of The 21st Century

medium.com

  • More knowledge doesn’t equate with more wisdom, even though that is presumed by most western societies. The universe is not ambitious or with a purpose, but we are blind to that.
  • The meaning of the universe cannot be understood by the intellect, or by breaking down stuff into small parts. That is like biting your own teeth or eating your own mouth.
  • That the universe is meaningful or meaningless is not the point. Your trying to figure out the same by an endless cycle of questioning and solving problems is only to satisfy your own ego and become a believer or a nihilist, as per your conclusions.

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Most people are afraid of breathing, unable to exhale after they inhale, due to the uncertainty and insecurity of life. They are afraid to live, to let go and are not sure that the next breath will come, so they do what is logical: Hold their own breath.

Our fundamental misunderstanding is that we are alone in this world and must face the reality. This creates a fight between us and the world and is the basis of the ‘us vs them’ thinking that reinforces the feeling of separation, lack and disconnection.

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Human life and all the other life does not work in harmony when we try to force or impose something that we assume is under our control. Man has always imposed his own will and mind over nature, making a basic error of judgement in considering himself as an all-knowing God.

This also creates a barrier, a conflict between objects which are otherwise in complete harmony. Nature is not against anyone, but if a species like ours has gained sentience and decided to conquer nature, it will revert back aptly.

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Religions are divisions, making people separate from others. Most religions follow the concept of belief, that the truth is already there and you simply have to believe in it.

These religions have imposed beliefs, doctrines and sets of ideas that are supposed to be holding the truth, and some even have deities and other entities with divine power that supposedly protect us from the harsh truths of life: uncertainty, impermanence, death and change. These harsh truths are paradoxically essential for understanding life.

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Alan Watts

“Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.”

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  • Western society equates nature with the countryside or the mountains. Nature is everywhere, even inside us.
  • Any attempt to intentionally be one with nature (or Tao) results in us moving away from it because the attempt itself shows that we are not one with it already.
  • The Chinese name for nature, ziran means the natural, spontaneous process of life and is not differentiated from man.

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Tao is the way of nature, and the way to be in accord with it is Wu Wei that is non-doing. This non-action, effortless effort, or actionless action goes past most western societies who are having a ‘doing’ mentality rather than a ‘being’ one.

Acting out of the result in mind is not being in accord with the way of nature, as we are already imposing something in our actions. The agenda is already there.

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Nothing exists except the present moment, as even the past or the future need the present moment to take shape. It seems shorter than a microsecond but encompasses all eternity.

Apart from this moment, one cannot be anywhere else.

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  • There is no us without others, and there is no here without any there. Even darkness cannot be defined without light.
  • We go on labelling our feelings or our activities, saying things like I am sad, I am listening to music, or I am happy, but to really do something, one cannot label it.
  • Even labelling an activity is making us separate from the true and real experiences of performing the activity.

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Alan Watts

“Life is a dance, and when you are dancing you are not intent on getting somewhere… The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance.”

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